WordPress plugins are required for a variety of reasons. They provide many features and functionality that your site would not otherwise have.
Using plugins, you can modify an existing site to meet your needs better and serve your visitors. However, you’ve probably heard that having too many WordPress plugins on your website is negative.
With over 50,000 plugins available, it’s easy to install a few too many to your pages.
However, how many plugins are too many?
The quick answer is that it depends on your site’s requirements. Also, the type of web hosting service provider you employ.
Before we get into the specifics of how many plugins you should have, let’s talk about the issues that having too many plugins might cause.
WordPress Plugins: What They Are and How They Work
Before we go any further, let’s discuss WordPress plugins and how they work.
WordPress plugins function similarly to apps for your website. They assist you with adding additional features and functionality to your website, such as creating an online store, adding contact forms, and more.
Plugins, like WordPress, are written in the PHP programming language. PHP code executes on your website’s hosting server and makes use of its resources.
This is why you must select a reliable WordPress hosting company that provides simple solutions for managing those resources and efficiently running your website.
Plugins have been a boon to users since WordPress 1.2 (when support for WordPress plugins was implemented). WordPress without plugins is analogous to a play store devoid of toys. That’s not a good time.
Why are plugins necessary for WordPress sites?
Even though the WordPress core provides a powerful publishing platform, the plugins have made WordPress the most popular website builder in the world.
The total number of WordPress plugins accessible has expanded over time. At the time of writing, the official WordPress plugins directory contained around 54,000 free WordPress plugins.
Aside from these free plugins, many more premium WordPress plugins are available for purchase from third-party firms and developers.
Plugins can help you enhance SEO, increase security, manage users, and do various other things. It would be tough to build your business if you did not use WordPress plugins on your website.
The issue of too many plugins
The issues created by plugins will vary based on which plugins you have installed, how they are coded, which ones are active, and other factors.
The main issue with having too many plugins is that some of them can cause your site to slow down.
Because 40% of visitors will leave a website if it takes more than three seconds to load, keeping track of the number of plugins you install is advantageous to the success of your website.
Some WordPress plugins can make your site more vulnerable to security breaches.
1. An increase in HTTP requests
Many plugins provide a lot of functionality for your site’s front end. Allowing a visitor, for example, to book an appointment or explore and purchase physical or digital things.
2. Security vulnerabilities
Many developers or WordPress website owners have experienced attacks and hacks because of plugin vulnerabilities. If your website is not safe, hackers can damage all of your hard work in building a blog or designing an eCommerce store.
Every year, attacks become more frequent. There was a 32% increase in hacked sites between 2015 and 2016. WordPress had 542 vulnerabilities reported in 2018, a 30% increase from 2017.
A concerning website hacking statistic is that plugins or themes are responsible for well over 90% of WordPress vulnerabilities. According to one report, plugins are responsible for up to 98 percent of WordPress vulnerabilities, while another study indicated that plugins and themes were responsible for 95 percent of vulnerabilities.
In 2021 alone, malicious cyberattacks have increased by 300%.
And attempting to fix all of the damage can take a significant amount of time and money.
According to Wordfence, at least 47 percent of all WordPress vulnerabilities are Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities.
This happens when malicious scripts are inserted into a plugin’s code. Websites can also be jeopardized if plugins are out of date.
According to Sucuri, RevSlider, Gravity Forms, and TimThumb were responsible for 25% of all site hacks. Each of the three plugins is out of date.
A hacked website can harm both your brand’s reputation and your privacy. However, keep in mind that there are risks associated with any software you choose to install.
3: Site crashes and unreliability
Even the most popular WordPress plugins, such as WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache, have difficulties.
Because WordPress is an open source project, anybody can use, modify, and distribute all WordPress software. That is also why the majority of plugins are free.
As a result, improper plugin code that causes site crashes is feasible.
These faults can easily turn a good plugin into a bad one, affecting site performance and page speed.
4: Poor performance and slow page speed
Fast website loading times are critical for retaining site visitors. However, the more plugins you have on your site, the slower it will be.
Then, use a program like Pingdom to test your site. Run a full-page test to evaluate your website’s performance and page speeds.
More code is added to the browser for each plugin you install on your site. That means more code to process, so the less code there is, the faster your loading times will be.
5: Excessive database queries
In addition to too many HTTP calls, plugins may introduce too many database queries.
Your database contains a large portion of your WordPress site. It consumes time and resources every time your page needs to load and requests information from your database.
The more queries sent to your database, similar to HTTP requests, the greater the strain on your database, and your site’s overall performance suffers.
6: Problems with compatibility
The more plugins you install, the more likely you will encounter a compatibility problem. When the code in two or more plugins does not play well together and causes them to break.
It’s similar to how gears work in a machine. When two gears are compatible, their teeth line up and can rotate in unison. However, if those teeth are not properly aligned, the gears grind together and struggle until both the gears and the entire machine are destroyed.
Because plugins aren’t all built by the same developers, it’s difficult to ensure that every single plugin on the market is compatible with one another.
Don’t forget that the WordPress repository alone contains over 50,000 plugins. It is nearly hard to test one plugin against all the others available to resolve any compatibility issues.
How many plugins are enough?
The purpose of this essay is to address a single simple question: How many WordPress plugins are too many? Unfortunately, the answer is not as straightforward as “a number.”
When it comes to plugins, we should keep two things in mind:
When it comes to WordPress plugins, quantity is everything. Every plugin you install increases the likelihood of problems on your site.
They can not only cause problems on their own, but they can also contribute to site-wide problems such as load time and uptime.
The quality of WordPress plugins is also important. You could have many plugins loaded and still have very few issues with your site.
Plugins that receive regular updates and are supported by knowledgeable WordPress developers are always preferable.
Which is more important?
So, what matters more: quantity or quality?
The answer is that they both are!
Here’s a simple analogy that should apply in the majority of circumstances.
It is preferable to have 20 high-quality WordPress plugins than 5 low-quality ones.
The truth is that a poorly built plugin can cause significant damage to your website. At the absolute least, search your plugin directory for plugins that haven’t been updated in a while.
Does this imply that you should remove plugins that aren’t constantly updated? It’s a good starting point, but it’s not always essential.
When in doubt, go for a plugin that is routinely updated to replace dormant plugins.
What about add-on plugins?
Before we go any further, there is one exception to be made. We’re discussing add-on plugins.
Plugin authors will occasionally produce add-ons that extend the capabilities of the original plugins. These add-ons can sometimes be found in the plugin directory as additional plugins. They are installed, active, and removed similarly to other plugins.
That’s exactly how we work with our form builder plugin. So, for example, if you utilize MailChimp, you would download another plugin to expand our Formidable Forms core plugin.
On the surface, this appears to violate the rule of having too many plugins. However, this is a far better method to go about things.
Our plugin includes a plethora of add-on capabilities. We keep them out of the core because we want our primary plugin to be as quick as possible. Another advantage is that our add-ons are specifically intended to complement one another. The same cannot be stated for every WordPress plugin available.
This is one of the reasons why our plugin may be used to generate full websites on its own, such as a directory website.
In other words, consumers will only install things that they require. So, while you may need to install extra plugins at times, the result is still a quicker WordPress site.
There is no set number of plugins that all users must utilize.
However, it greatly depends on the web host you use. Stick to 0 to 5 plugins for shared or low-cost cloud hosting.
You can run anywhere between 5 and 20 plugins on your site using cloud hosting, VPS hosting, or a dedicated server.
We suggest never having more than 20 plugins installed.
Although less is more, there are no hard and fast laws on how many plugins you can or cannot have. That is why you should follow these steps to reduce the number of plugins on your site.
Best practices for WordPress plugins
Use only the plugins you need
Small blogs can get away with just a few plugins, but a larger website may require at least 20.
Installing plugins that you require is a smart rule of thumb. For instance, if a plugin isn’t required to access a service, such as MailChimp or Google Analytics, don’t install it.
Uninstall any plugins that you no longer require or use. Uninstall any plugins that aren’t necessary for your site’s functionality.
Also, test plugins before installing them on your site to avoid problems before they occur.
When deciding which plugins to uninstall, be honest with yourself about whether plugins are truly necessary.
Install only reputable plugins
There are a few actions you can take to ensure that the new plugins you add to your site are legitimate.
First, you should determine when the plugin was last updated. Some plugins are updated every week.
If you come across a plugin that hasn’t been updated in more than a year, don’t install it.
Some out-of-date plugins will tell you that they haven’t been updated, saving you the trouble of looking for the date.
You should also look at a plugin’s overall downloads and reviews. A reasonable rule of thumb is to have over 100,000 downloads and at least four stars.
Support for a plugin is vital because you will require resources if a problem arises. Each plugin’s description can be found under the “Support” page.
It should direct you to a forum or help page. If it does not, do not install the plugin.
Examine a plugin’s code before downloading to ensure that it is as clean and concise as feasible.
If you don’t have the time to do this, at the very least, ensure that the plugins you want to get are from respected developers.
Finally, contact a WordPress plugin professional if all of this is too much for you.
For help, speak with a WordPress plugin expert.
Whether you’re new to WordPress or need assistance identifying the proper plugin for your site, a WordPress plugin expert can provide professional assistance to spare you from making an expensive mistake.
You may also reach out to the community on Twitter or Slack to get guidance on a plugin.
Patch vulnerabilities by updating existing plugins
Plugins are updated regularly. These upgrades include critical patches that close security gaps in plugins.
More than 50,000 websites were hacked in 2014 due to a rogue plugin called MailPoet. The issue arose when a hole was discovered that allowed hackers to upload files directly to the users’ server to take control of the entire site.
As a result, you should update plugins as soon as they are available. If updates are available, they will be listed in your dashboard’s “Updates” section.
Another fast technique to improve your website’s security is to remove inactive plugins.
Remove any inactive plugins from your website.
Hackers can utilize inactive plugins to get access to your site.
Navigate to your website’s dashboard and look in the “Plugins” section. Uninstall any plugins that are displayed under the “Inactive” tab.
To completely delete a plugin and all of its files, press “Deactivate” and “Delete.”
Set up a security plugin
A security plugin can assist in detecting and isolating issues before they cause damage to your website. That way, you may either repair the problem or delete the plugin before it causes any (further) harm.
Back up your website regularly.
Backing up your site regularly ensures that you do not lose everything in the event of one of the previously stated issues. If you do, you can restore your site to a previous state.
Is it possible to avoid plugins simply using code snippets?
There are numerous articles on the internet that demonstrate how to avoid plugins by adding a code snippet instead.
The goal of these articles is not to discourage plugins’ use but to show you how to learn to code. There are three ways to add code snippets to your website. You can add custom code snippets to your functions.php file, a site-specific plugin, or a plugin.
Adding code snippets to your website has the same performance impact as a standalone plugin, regardless of the mechanism you use.
When you install code snippets that are identical to plugins, you are essentially running the plugin without installing it. The disadvantage is that you will not receive any plugin updates or security fixes for that code.
Select your plugins wisely.
It’s tempting to get carried away with the enthusiasm of installing a brand-new plugin. Here is a list of things to consider before installing and activating a new plugin. Following the following recommendations will assist you in determining whether the plugin in question is a good fit for your website:
- Remember that it is usually not too many plugins that cause problems on your website, but rather ones that are badly coded.
- Investigate the plugin’s creator – To avoid difficulties, Andy from WP Maintainer recommends using plugins created by well-known authors in the WordPress community.
- Star ratings, user reviews, and help forums are excellent locations to learn how the plugin functions for others. Ryan from WP Site Care recommends looking for plugins with a high number of five-star reviews.
- Consider your visitors’ experience when interacting with your site — is it clutter-free, functional, fast, and visually appealing? Will the new plugin improve or degrade the user experience?
- Keep track of the plugins you are running or have removed from your site — Dan from WP Curve recommends deleting any unnecessary plugins from your site, including any inactive stuff.
- Examine the documentation for a detailed description, tutorials, and screenshots of the plugin in action.
- Examine the updated version date stamp and the number of downloads or active installations — a reliable and well-established plugin will be routinely updated and have many downloads.
- By completing this checklist, you should be able to limit the likelihood of your plugin choices negatively affecting your site.
Install as many WordPress plugins as possible to run your website and expand your business. A company website with at least 20-30 plugins is pretty common. If you’re using WordPress to its best extent and have a lot of complex features, this number can easily reach 50. Make sure to maintain your site and update it.